By Jeff Leck, Member of HaitiChildren’s Board of Directors
I visited Haiti in July, 2012 and was reminded of the difficult conditions HaitiChildren faces every day. The oppressive heat, constant dust, overwhelming traffic, severe poverty, and incredibly crowded real estate in and around Port-au-Prince do not make for an appealing working environment. I have traveled to many places in the world and in terms of day-to-day logistics, Haiti is easily the most difficult. I think the government of Haiti, considering the tragedies and setbacks, is doing all it can do to stabilize the country and protect children. Yet, the task is enormous. Reflecting on the trip, I wanted to share with you some observations about the difficulty of caring for kids in Haiti:
Electricity. The power grid in Haiti is unreliable for sustained power needs such as refrigeration or night lighting. The constant power outages throughout Haiti mean HaitiChildren’s staff must care for children mostly without relying on electricity. While we do have generators, diesel fuel costs dictate limiting use of generator power to only the most essential needs.
Transportation. The roads in Haiti are worse than any I have observed (even in places such as Africa). The capital’s “roads” are essentially potholes joined with occasional pavement. Rocks and debris are constant. Traffic jams are ubiquitous. HaitiChildren’s staff cannot simply drive quickly across town to secure supplies or attend meetings. Every journey, however short, is an adventure with a very bumpy and convoluted ride. domain expiring Further, virtually all the vehicles experience extreme wear and tear.
Sanitation. There is dust everywhere. Sewage management is rudimentary at best, open and flowing at worst. Garbage piles are part of the landscape. While the average Haitian no doubt has a stout constitution, it is very difficult to keep our children from exposure to disease and infections. I am proud of HaitiChildren’s efforts to provide clean water to students and orphans. At HaitiChildren Village, the kids take two showers each day and the facilities are spotless. I now have a better understanding of the priority we must place on sanitation for all of the children in our care.
Reflecting on my overall visit, and especially the time I spent at the HaitiChildren Village, I continue to be amazed that HaitiChildren can help so many children with so few dollars. The promise HaitiChildren makes to orphans—to provide food, a home, 24/7 care, medicine, vaccinations, education, therapy, recreation and love—is monumental. It is no cliché to say—this is a labor of love.